by: Jane Gabrille S. Maglente, (Don Bosco-Mati)

God’s greatness is truly evident! After several online youth activities, the Salesian Youth Movement-Philippines South Province had their SALT CAMP last August 4-7, 2022, with the theme: “Salesian Eco-Youth Warriors: Be the Change!”—their first ever face to face activity after years of waiting. As the movement’s adaptable community for the Laudato Si’ program, the Cebu, Negros, and Davao District were in full participation. It was held at the Don Bosco House of Peace in Mantalongon, Dalaguete, Cebu.

The event went smoothly as it started with a Holy Mass with Rev. Fr. Vince Michael Sabal, SDB as the mass presider, and followed by the energetic icebreakers led by the camp facilitators. Kuya Eduardo Empelis Jr., the Camp master gave the General Orientation. Afterwards, he reminded the campers the value of Humility, Unity and Equality. The campers then proceeded to their respective groups, wherein they started building friendship, while knowing each other’s uniqueness, and making their flags and yells. Afterwards, Rev. Fr. Vince Michael Sabal, SDB gave a talk about “Mother Nature: Saving Our Mother Earth” wherein the campers were reminded that everything in this world are interconnected through different beautiful reasons. Before the day ended, the campers thanked the Blessed Mother Mary through a Solemn Rosary.

On the Second day, the campers were taught to inculcate Loving Kindness in their hearts. After their morning preparation, an input was given by Ate Zenaida Ann Miranda about “Our Common Home: Don Bosco Green Alliance Movement”. She used the famous KDrama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, planting to young participants’ hearts the fact that they always have the Chance to Change for the good of their Common Home—the biggest challenge they have on hand. The campers continued their day with the Afternoon Prayer: Laudato Si’. Then, they prepared themselves by dancing the SYM songs in preparation for the next input given by Kuya Diovanie Obineta with the topic “Together We Stand For Our Environment: Community Service Integration”. He shared in his talk that the young people must recognize their personal strength while identifying the community problems and use their ability to craft personal action to solve their concerns. The campers ended the day with Taize prayer.

On the third day of the camp, the campers had their Holy Mass in San Isidro Labrador Parish to thank God in which they were reminded that they are at the forefront of the mission of the Church in solving ecological crises by making environmental actions. Ate Patlyn Antonette Panares, the 4th speaker talked about “Human Roots of Ecological Crisis: Internet Intervention,” reminding the youth that with love and commitment they have the power to solve society’s problems. To empower the young participants’ grip on the “Environmental Action: Creating Eco- Positive Change” topic, their session started with a very special activity: a memorable Amazing Grace. In light of this, they started their 1st station by gathering a thousand peso using the 200 pesos bill as their capital. Bosconians’ initiative and creativity were truly evident in this activity because instead of using the money given to earn more, the campers showcased their talents to the people around the Mantalongon Dalaguete Market to achieve their goal. Using their compass they went to the next station, in which they were tasked to cook a hard boiled egg on a wet area and limited materials. Subsequently, they were told to look for the majestic Flower Garden of the said place which happened to be the last station. Proving that Salesian youths do truly persevere to succeed, shivering due to the cold breeze of Mantalongon air, tired due to hiking tens of kilometers, with sweat and rain droplets dripping on their body, they continued their journey going back to their campsite. To fully understand the session, Ate Jayriel Cui emphasized the value of what they’ve been through, as they became sensitive to what’s happening in our environment. They imparted something from themselves, making them achieve the goal of their tasks. After the session, they prepared for the next activity — “The Campfire.” This time, they showed their skills and talents to everyone. Afterwards, a goodnight talk was given by Kuya Daryl Torreon, the incoming Senior Youth Leader, highlighting the importance of having an advanced and quick mindset as a youth leader.

On the last day, the campers had their hiking to Osmeña Peak. It took a long walk before they got to the mountain top. They all looked tired but after seeing the beautiful scenery, it was all worth it. The campers wore their smiles while feeling the fresh air. All of them were so energetic going back to the campsite. The young leaders’ adventure in the cold mountains of Mantalongon, marked a new beginning of their youthful years as they became Salesian Eco-Youth warriors! With all the pain, hardships, and challenges they’ve been through in order for them to be called as one, the campers can’t help themselves but to utter, “Praise be to You, oh Lord” in their hearts! Undoubtedly, His love and undying grace never failed to surprise them in amazing and unforeseen ways.

With God’s undeniable generosity, this flock of young Salesian Youth leaders felt truly grateful for the people behind the wonderful opportunity they’ve experienced: to their Parish Priests, youth directors, youth animators and leaders. Proving that God is not just good in giving graces but also the best giver of inspiration to us all, especially to the young ones.

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